It seems tough: just as you are working hard to get good grades, we come along and tell you that there’s a whole load of other skills and attributes you need to land that dream job! Well, the list is not as daunting as it looks; you will have developed a lot of useful skills along the way and we can show you how best to present them to future employers.
But first, you need to understand exactly what employers are looking for:
Verbal Communication Skills: you can express yourself articulately face-to-face and on the phone; you can give instructions clearly, present your case well, persuade others to take your ideas on board and you are generally confident with all sorts of people in all sorts of situations.
Written Communication Skills: you know how to write in different media and in different styles according to the audience. You can construct a logical argument on paper, accurately record events that have happened, write persuasively when needed and put together a pithy presentation that won’t send the audience to sleep. And you really think about what is the most appropriate medium to deliver your message. Sometimes it is not about how well you write, but whether you should have written something down in the first place! Employers often complain that new recruits are too keen to dash off an email instead of dealing with someone in person – if you have ever dumped a boy/girl friend by email, you need to work on this!
Teamwork: you are happy to work with others towards a common goal- even if you are not the leader of the pack! You listen to others’ points of view whilst contributing your own ideas. You assume your share of the workload and the responsibility …. and are happy to share the credit with others when you succeed. You genuinely enjoying working with others and sharing ideas.
Commercial Awareness:you understand the importance of seeing things from the business perspective. You are interested in business matters, current affairs and can talk about what makes businesses successful (or not!). You understand why the principles that underpin commercial organisations are often equally important in the not-for -profit and public sectors.
Analysis and Research: you understand the value of data, how to obtain it and how to manipulate it. You can assess what are the key issues arising from the information, draw sound and evidence-based conclusions and pinpoint appropriate actions needed to address these issues. You are not fazed by a tough problem and will keep looking for new ways to solve it until you find the right one.
Planning and Organising: you are able to estimate tasks correctly, draw up a realistic and logical schedule to complete these tasks, foresee possible risks or problems that may arise and make contingency plans accordingly. You can marshall the appropriate resources to complete the tasks on time and within budget.
Numeracy: you can work with numbers in a practical context to analyse, express and support business and financial decisions. Don’t be phased by this: most employers want you able to use numbers confidently and apply GCSE level mathematics intelligently to real situations – it’s not rocket science!
IT: think less about social media and more about spreadsheets, presentations, producing documents, internet searches and file management. IT underpins most business operations so you need to know the useful stuff, rather than the fun stuff. And whilst we are on the subject – don’t expect to be able to play with the fun stuff during office hours!
Self Motivation and Drive: you are determined to get things done and don’t need someone standing over you to make sure things happen. You always want to do better and are happy to keep on learning. If you hit a problem, you use your initiative to try and get it sorted. You won’t walk away until the job is done.
Adaptable and Open-Minded: you are able to deal with change, if not embrace it. You are willing to change direction when the situation demands it. You can accommodate the views and needs of others, when appropriate and are willing to change your mind in the face of new information. You are fair and non-judgemental.
Creative Thinking: in an ever changing world, the ability to think ‘the unthinkable’, make unusual connections and imagine new scenarios is becoming a highly prized skill. You can be imaginative, think out of the box and view situations in new ways when you need to.
So now you know what are the key employability skills, you should think about what you can do to make yourself more employable.
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